Just like every other K-pop fanatic, South Korea was always on my to-go list. In May 2017, I finally set off on a journey to that very country I have been wanting to visit ever since I was 15 (10 years ago man!). Since I'm now in my mid-twenties, and am officially an adult, I gotta pay for all my travelling expenses, which includes accommodation.
Hotels were (and are) definitely way out of my budget, so I opted for Airbnb which is something I have been wanting to try out. Personally, I took a really long time picking out the perfect Airbnb to live in. Many have various pros and cons so it was difficult to compare them. Since I was on a budget, the price was a major deciding factor for me. Apart from which, I also considered other factors such as cleanliness, convenience, and other benefits.
So today, I will be sharing with you my experience of staying in various Airbnbs in Seoul and Jeju to hopefully help you make your best decision! During the 13D13N trip, I booked a total of 4 different Airbnb (3 in Seoul, 1 in Jeju) to live in, so I will be comparing these 4 places of accommodation base on a few factors.
Our first Airbnb in Seoul is Alex's place (click here for Airbnb link)
: $85.32/night for 7 nights (including Airbnb fees, cleaning fees and bank charges etc)
: Alex's place is located only a minute away from Dangsan Station (Line 9 and 2) which is super convenient to travel to various tourist spots. It is only one stop away from Hongik University (Hongdae) and two stops away from Ewha University (Edae). Dangsan is also only about 15 to 20 minutes away from Myeongdong if you alight at Euljiro1-ga (Line 2). Line 9 is also great if you are travelling to Gimpo Airport or Noryangjin Fish Market as they are on the same line.
: The apartment is quite like a condominium style as there is a security at the lobby area and you will not be able to enter the building without a pass. Downstairs, there is a huge empty space with a couple of benches and sculptures. Kinda like a park but without all the greenery. During the day time, the area is generally quiet and peaceful. Since Alex's place is on the higher levels, there is absolutely no need to worry about any noise pollution.
(The view from Alex's place.)
(Books and house manual - teaches you how to operate the appliances.)
(Refreshments provided by Alex.)
Nearby restaurants and shops
: Right at the first floor is a GS25 (convenience store) which is linked directly to the lobby area so you don't even have to step out of the building. The building is also next to a mall I believe? We didn't explore the buildings beside it but on the first floor, there are many restaurants and upstairs, we also saw a Juno Hair (a popular hair salon) outlet as well as a cafe. Right opposite the apartment is a whole street of Korean food! And if you're not a huge fan of Korean food, fret not as Alex's place is also a walking distance to Mcdonald's, KFC, Holly's Coffee and more.
Within 5 minutes of walking underground via the metro station, you will also be able to find a mini Lotte Mart (which is actually not that mini), if the GS25 is not enough for you. There are also street food available such as Odeng, Ddeokbokki, as well as a Korean drugstore, LOHB. One of the nights it started raining, and so we went to try out a nearby Jokbal (pig leg) restaurant that was recommended by Alex. The owners of the restaurant were extremely kind and even gave us extra food to try when she found out that we are not locals.
In the subway station itself, you will be able to find MISSHA, Watsons, and also 2 bakeries.
: I give Alex's place a 10/10 for cleanliness as everything was clean and new when we arrived. The kitchen, the sink, the sheets, toilet, everything! There was no weird odor and so it really felt like we just shifted into our new home and it made us feel very comfortable.
Communication with Host
: From the start, Alex has been very helpful. Upon arriving, he told us that the previous guest has spoiled the wifi in his house and he offered to get it fixed the next day while we are out. Since we have our own wifi egg, we told him that it was okay and he also decided to get it fixed after we left so as not to disturb our stay. He also allowed us to drop our heavy luggage and check-in about 20 minutes earlier which we really appreciate. At the end of our stay, he also dropped me a message to check how we are doing which is nice!
: Alex's place has everything you'll ever need!
Forgot your toiletries? Fret not as Alex has got your back. In the toilet cabinet, we found literally everything we needed from toothpaste, facial cleansers, contact lens solution, toner, moisturiser, make up remover, aftershave cream, cotton pads and cotton buds... My boyfriend was enjoying his skincare products so much, especially the Dolce and Gabbana aftershave cream.
In the kitchen, you will also be able to find various pots, pans, bowls, cutlery and cooking utensils, as well as detergent, fabric softener, and plastic bags for storage and trash. If you watch my Day 2 Korea Vlog
, we also cooked our own food at Alex's place. Oh and in the refrigerator, there was also a packet of ice ready.
: Alex's place was hands down both me and my boyfriend's favourite Airbnb in Korea. We stayed at Alex's place for a week and it was the best Airbnb experience we had. Even right now in Singapore, we constantly talk about how much we wish to head back to Alex's place! It was comfortable and clean, not to mention that it was so easy to get back home from the popular shopping districts. It felt really good coming back to Alex's place after a long day of exploring Seoul as it really felt like home. I am super picky when it comes to toilets. After a long tiring day, the last thing I want is to shower in a dirty toilet. And that is why I didn't mind spending a little more for a cleaner toilet. I was extremely pleased with the toilet at Alex's place as it was clean, new, doesn't have any odour, and most importantly, comfortable to shower in. I mean, I brought along my own shampoo but the one he provided smells great and it's minty! Which is my favorite kind of shampoo.
Space wise, it was smaller than what we expected but it was enough for the both of us as well as our 2 huge luggage (we just shove our luggage under the table and bed).
Another one of our favourite points about Alex's place is how the subway will always pass by the Han River when we're travelling towards Hongdae. Let me just say that we can never get sick of the gorgeous view of the Han River! Since Alex's place is on the higher floors, there is also a beautiful view of Seoul City (and the Han River) from the apartment.
I highly recommend Alex's place, especially for solo travelers and couples! If we ever get another chance to visit Korea again, we would love to go back to Alex's place.
After spending a week in Seoul, we hopped onto a plane and made our way to Jeju Island. Upon arriving, we checked in to Alice's Place (click here for Airbnb link)
: $66.48/night for 3 nights (including Airbnb fees, cleaning fees and bank charges etc)
: Located near the Aewol coastal, I was attracted to Alice's place as it was supposedly just beside the sea. Unfortunately, there was a busy highway road that separates the house from the sea which prevented us from going near the coast.
The location was quite deserted and away from the busy city area, but we enjoyed the quietness and peacefulness. From Jeju Airport, we took a taxi over due to our luggage and it costs us about 10,200won. I was mainly attracted to Alice's place as I'm a huge G-dragon fan and so staying near the Aewol coastal just means that it would be easy to travel to Monsant Cafe which is owned by G-dragon himself. (*I also did a review on Monsant Cafe so click here to read
!) We drove to various tourist attractions such as Hallim Park, Jungmun Tourist Complex, Seongsan Ilchulbong, Sunrise Land, Woljeongri Beach and the furthest drive was to Seongsan Ilchulbong which took us about 1 hour and 25 minutes.
: The house is a 2-storey bungalow-looking house and we live on the first floor, together with Alice who lives right next door. When we entered the corridor of the house, I was quite shock as there was a really strong smell of the sea.... Or fishes... I don't know. But it smelled like a fish market. Thankfully, that smell was only at the corridor. Since Jeju is more village-liked and we are situated away from the city area, there are quite a number of flies outside the house too, but that didn't really bothered us. As it is a house that many people are living in, you will hear a lot of noises such as doors closing, water running, and more. And like I've mentioned, the house is right next to a busy highway road, so it's no surprise that you will be hearing motors and even ambulance during the night. I'm pretty sure there is a dog living at the next house too as we occasionally hear barking at dawn. Apart from that, the area is usually very quiet and peaceful, and there is not many people around in the streets too. In fact, the streets usually look quite dead and empty.
Nearby restaurants and shops
: Despite the deadly looking streets, there are actually numerous shops and restaurants around that neighbourhood. Alice has drawn a helpful map, indicating places such as gas stations, popular restaurants, convenience store and more. There is actually a CU (convenience store) within 3 minutes of walking distance which I find really useful. For 2 nights, we had our dinner at 2 different restaurants that was recommended by Alice, so we managed to walk around the neighbourhood. While making our way back, we saw a book cafe, as well as a couple of bakeries. We actually went into one and bought ourselves some buns, cheese cookies and macarons for breakfast the following day and it was yummy!
: Alice's place is generally clean, but since she mentioned that she used to live in that house, the appliances and furniture did look old and used. After the detergent smell went away, there was also a weird odour coming from the toilet which I could smell from the bedroom, and so we had to keep the bathroom door closed. But other than the toilet, everything else was clean.
Communication with Host
: Before our trip, I was considering between taking the public transport and renting a car (read about my car rental experience here
). As I wasn't able to get driving routes from Google maps, I have been asking Alice for the estimated time it will take from different locations to another to help myself plan my day. Unfortunately, I probably asked about too many locations which resulted in Alice completely ignoring my messages. She did not respond until the day before we checked in, still ignoring my queries. Apart from that, Alice is fluent in English which makes communication easy. Because she lives just next door, we could easily get in touch with her when we encountered any problems (we couldn't get the air-condition to switch on initially). As our flight back to Seoul was at 8 in the morning, she also helped us call a taxi at 6AM and we really appreciate that.
: The amenities provided at Alice's place was sufficient. Basic kitchen ware and utensils were provided, as well as basic toiletries, hair dryer, towels, bathroom slippers, and home slippers. Apart from that, Alice also has a huge collection of books and pamphlets on Jeju that you can read through during your free time.
: Overall, Alice's place was very homely and my favourite thing about Alice's place is the space. Both the living room and the bedroom is very spacious which is great as Jeju Air only allowed 15kg of checked-in bags so we definitely needed to repack our luggage. On most nights, we would just chill in Alice's place instead of going out and I really enjoyed just lying on the huge comfy bed while my boyfriend enjoys watching the television in the living room.
A few reasons why Alice's place only got a 3.5* from me is that her place is quite dark as there aren't many lights especially in the living and kitchen area. Also, because there are simply no view from her place. There are only 2 windows in the house, 1 in the living room which she has stapled a curtain over it to prevent us from opening, and another in the bedroom which... Basically when you open it, it's the corridor that has flies and smells like a fish market, so we had to keep it close for privacy purpose as well. Another thing to note is that the air-conditioner is located in the living room and so if you want the cold air to travel to the bedroom, you'll need to leave the door open. That was completely fine with us since it was just my boyfriend and I.
Like I mentioned, I'm a picky person when it comes to toilets. Alice's toilet was fine apart from the weird odor and the fact that it was so difficult to control the temperature of the shower! Pretty sure I got burnt a couple of times when the water just turned so hot all of a sudden and sometimes it also turned cold which was also unpleasant.
I ended up renting a car in Jeju, because I read that there was a parking area right in front of Alice's house. However, after we parked our car and went back in to wash up, I received a text from Alice asking us to move our car away. Apparently, the parking area in front of Alice's house has been fully taken up by her neighbours and therefore we had to (parallel) park +/-50m away from her house, depending on whether there is a space nearby. Thankfully, there weren't many cars driving around which made parallel parking easier.
Personally, I feel like if we ever visit Jeju again, we will probably just book a hotel or resort with a nice sea view as the beautiful scenery is what makes Jeju special.
Coming back to Seoul, we checked into Joey's Place (click here for Airbnb link)
: S$72.99/night for 1 night (including Airbnb fees, cleaning fees and bank charges etc)
: Joey's place is located in between 2 metro stations, Sinjeongnegeori (Line 2), as well as Sinjeong (Line 5). In the description, he wrote that it is in the middle of both stations, and so we chose to alight at Sinjeong (Line 5). Probably the worst decision we made in Seoul. Carrying our luggage, and backpacks, we had to pull and drag our luggage through all the uneven roads and upslopes from Sinjeong station and we walked for about 15 minutes to arrive to his place. It was pure torture. With that said, his place is only about 5 minutes away from Sinjeongnegeori (Line 2) with no upslope....... We didn't really like the location as even though Sinjeongnegeori is on Line 2, you will still need to transfer at Sindorim station to travel to places like Hongdae and Myeongdong. The nearest hot spot is Hongdae and that will take about 30 - 40 minutes to reach.
: When we finally went back (we just dropped our luggage first without checking in as Joey was still cleaning the place), it was already late at night and the building was so dark that it was actually creepy. I was expecting the lift area to light up when we entered the lobby but it didn't. When the lift came down, a lady was in the lift and she literally jumped when she saw us. Told you, it was creepily dark. The corridor to our apartment was dark and quiet but thankfully the corridor did light up when we walked past but overall... It gave off a really creepy vibe. I didn't really notice what was surrounding the building as there seemed to be nothing much.
Nearby restaurants and shops
: There are many shops around the area but nothing too interesting. Something I noticed is there were a lot of pet shops and vets in the area as compared to restaurants, convenience stores and cafes. Honestly, none of the shops really caught my attention or perhaps I was just really exhausted after that hefty "workout". However, after dropping off our luggage, we did went to Ediya Coffee, (approximately 5 minutes walk away) for a drink as it was starting to get hot in Seoul. I really liked their selection of drinks and the prices were really affordable too.
: Joey's place is generally clean. For cleanliness, I'll give his place a 9/10 as I felt like the floors were not really clean.
Communication with Host
: Joey is fluent in English and he responds really quickly as well. One thing to take note about Joey is that he owns a number of Airbnb and so he is basically running an Airbnb business. About a week before our stay, I have checked the Airbnb website and I noticed that no one else will be checking in to the room after us. Therefore I have requested a late check-out and Joey responded that the late check-out is possible if no one else is checking in. During the night we stayed at his place, I checked the Airbnb website once again and noticed that no one else will be checking in the next day. Therefore I have requested for a late check-out as it was our last day in the city area and we would have been so grateful if we could just leave our heavy luggage at his place. Unfortunately, Joey refused to allow us to check out late as it is his "rule" that they do their cleaning at 12pm sharp. To that, I asked if they could come and clean at 12pm the following day since no one else is checking in, but he insisted the cleaning to be done, just in case someone else books the Airbnb on that day itself, which I thought was quite impossible. So to that, it was definitely not the best experience as I felt that he could've been more flexible and understanding as a host, especially when he told me that it was possible in the first place.
: Basic amenities were provided such as hair dryer, clean towels, shampoo and body wash. As for the kitchen we were surprised to find some food such as pancake mix in the kitchen cabinet and he also provided oil, salt and sugar which is great if you are planning to cook.
: Our stay at Joey's place was quite pleasant. The bed was really comfortable and the television was probably one of the best out of all the Airbnb listed here. There is also a full-length mirror and a huge closet for you to store your clothes. Since we were only staying for one night, we did not utilize the closet.
The toilet was disappointing as I was expecting a toilet similar to Alex's place but the shower area wasn't even separated from the rest of the toilet and so after showering, the entire toilet is wet and there is foam all over the floor. Once again, the temperature of the shower was super difficult to control.
There were also a couple of flies around the room and I actually woke up to a couple of bites on my legs which was quite annoying. So apart from the lousy location, creepy building, lack of interesting stores in the area, disappointing toilet, annoying flies, and rigid rules, our stay was actually okay.
The next day, we checked out of Joey's Place and headed to Incheon airport for our very last Airbnb destination, Anna's Place (click here for Airbnb link)
. Anna's place is a traditional Korean house, also known as a Hanok, and to fully experience Korea and its culture, I have booked this Airbnb to experience how it's like living in Korea in the early 1980s.
: S$85.32/night for 1 night (including Airbnb fees, cleaning fees and bank charges etc)
: Anna's place is located in a village, 15 to 20 minutes away from Incheon Airport. She provides free pick-up and drop-off service to and fro Incheon Airport which was also one of the reasons why I chose to book her Airbnb, as our flight the next day is at 10 in the morning. Public transport is not advised and to be honest, I didn't see any buses going into the village so......
: As mentioned, Anna's place is located in a village. The surroundings are very peaceful and quiet which is just what we needed after 12 days of non-stop adventure.
Nearby restaurants and shops
: I don't think there is anything within walkable distance, but Anna has a number of bicycles outside her place which you can take and follow the routes she has drawn out on a map. With the bicycle, you can go to restaurants within the village, a 7-11 convenience store, as well as the beach to watch the sunset! Our initial plan was to head to the beach, however we were way too exhausted and *spoiler*, the room was so comfy to stay in!
(A room filled with board games, refreshments and books.)
(Quiet reading area.)
: For a house located in the village area, I give Anna's place a 10/10! Whether is it the room, the common lounge area, or the toilet, Anna's place is very clean and comfortable.
Communication with Host
: Anna is definitely the sweetest host we've had for this Korea trip. Upon arriving at the airport to fetch us, she greeted us with a big smile and even told us a very interesting background story of her house! Apparently, her house was built back in 1980 by her great great great... grandfather who was once the village chief! And even though people in the village were starting to demolish their Hanoks for a more modernize house, her father insisted on keeping the traditional house. Upon arriving, Anna gave us a tour of the Hanok, and she also gave us a free room upgrade! Her father also came out to greet us and he was as kind and sweet as Anna. Anna is very fluent in English so communication is not a problem at all. While I was booking the Airbnb online, I also told her that I am keen on ordering BHC Fried Chicken delivery for our last dinner in Seoul. Anna kindly remembered it and placed a flyer for BHC Fried Chicken in our room, and of course, she also helped us make the order as we are not fluent in Korean.
When our chicken arrived, she also provided us with plates and cutlery. On the same day, another guest from Sydney also checked-in to Anna's place and he opted for the free dinner cooked by Anna's mom. We gave him a piece of our fried chicken in exchange for a piece of beef and it was so good! Unfortunately, we only stayed for a night, otherwise we would love to have Anna's mom's cooking too! In the morning, Anna also prepared breakfast for us and it was a spread!
: Once again, the basic amenities were provided such as hair dryer, clean towels, shampoo, body wash and so on. She also provided us with crocs (honestly, so thankful for that as we were wearing sneakers!) so that it's easy for us to remove our shoes while walking around. If you are visiting in the summer, there is a fan as well as air-conditioner in the room. Since we will be sleeping on the floor, there is also a floor heater to keep us warm. The air-conditioner can also be adjusted to work as a heater depending on the temperature you've set. She also provided tiger balm which I'd totally use but I was too lazy to wash my hands after that.
In the common area, there are books and board games available as well as some refreshments like tea, cup noodles, and drinking water.
: The time spent at Anna's place was so memorable and relaxing and I highly recommend you to experience the hanok stay while you are in Korea! The room she provided us was huge and spacious with oriental decorations and also a couple of books for us to read. I really love the huge and thick wooden doors and to prevent flies and bugs from entering, there is also another sliding door as well as an insect net. The mattresses were sooo comfy to lie in, just talking about it makes me miss sleeping on them.
I was initially quite worried about the toilet as it's a shared toilet and I've never had a good experience in shared toilets but since I was the only girl checking in that day, I had the toilet all for myself, woohoo! I give the toilet a 10/10 man. It was way better than I expected, in fact, it was even better than the toilets in the previous 2 Airbnb. From the outside, the toilet looks traditional, but once you enter the toilet, it's a whole new world. There are 2 cubicles, one is the toilet area and the other is the shower area, and a sink outside both cubicles. The entire toilet was just super clean and it even smelled good. I wasn't planning on washing my hair but when I was showering, it was kinda like a "why not?" since I was enjoying the shower so much. So I washed my hair. And this really shows how much I didn't mind the toilet.
(Breakfast provided by Anna at 6.30AM.)
There are bugs around though. Like A LOT of bugs and flies. We actually caught a small spider in our room but it was no big deal. Despite the insect net, there were still flies in our room as we kept going in and out of our room. It was quite annoying but we gotta accept the fact that we're in a village. After our dinner, we stepped out of the lounge area and a cockroach kinda ran past my feet. That seriously gave me a heart attack because my fear of cockroaches is legit. After that incident, we kept our shoes indoors just in case any bugs decides to rest in our shoes.
Overall, it was a great experience and I would love to go back again! I just love the atmosphere there and feeling of doing absolutely nothing. I think it will be great for families too!
Labels: jeju, korea, lifestyle, review, seoul, tips, travel